On top of IU librarian Akram Khabibullaev's research and archival work at Herman B Wells Library, he also communicates with fellow Middle Eastern librarians worldwide as president of the Middle East Librarians Association.
Khabibullaev, who was named the president of the organization in November, specializes in Middle Eastern, Central Eurasian and Islamic studies at the library.
“The association was founded 45 years ago, and everything is going good, without any problem,” Khabibullaev said. “I think keeping it running the way it was before is good.”
MELA is a global organization designed to facilitate communication among Middle Eastern librarians, promote research and distribute Middle East library materials. As president, Khabibullaev is responsible for directing MELA’s annual November conference and leading the association’s year-round activities.
Khabibullaev was elected vice president by an anonymous online vote in 2016, which determined his transition to president for 2017-2018.
Khabibullaev said he believes his work as president will require much less time than his duties last year as vice president. In that position, Khabibullaev was in charge of organizing MELA’s annual three-day meeting.
He was responsible for collecting and selecting conference presentations and scholar presentations. About 90 members attended this year’s event in Washington D.C. in November.
Khabibullaev's colleague, David Hirsch, said members had a wonderful time at this year's meeting.
Khabibullaev estimates MELA has more than 130 members from the United States, Canada and Arab countries. Participation in the association is open to professional Middle Eastern librarians and anyone interested in Middle East library materials. Khabibullaev has been a member of MELA since 2002.
Khabibullaev said his interest in Middle East library studies is a natural pairing of his personal and intellectual backgrounds. Born in Kazakhstan, Khabibullaev moved to Uzbekistan after high school and immigrated to the U.S. in 2001.
He received his Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic studies in Uzbekistan and pursued his Masters of Library and Information Science at Rutgers University.
“I am originally from Central Eurasia, but my background is in Middle Eastern Studies, so I really enjoy working here,” Khabibullaev said.
Khabibullaev is responsible for IU’s materials in Arab, Persian, Turkish and Central Asian studies. He acquires and selects books for the library’s collection and helps students with research. He also serves as the liaison for IU’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and the Department of Central Eurasian Studies.
He plans to add works to MELA’s collection, communicate with committee members and lead projects in conjunction with MELA’s executive board.
“He’s a wonderful colleague,” Hirsch said. “He deserves it. He’s a good guy.”